Repository logo

Perceptions of migration and ethnic marginalisation: a comparative study of Indian and White South African medical graduates.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This study examines the perceptions of migration among a sample of potential South African Indian and White medical graduate migrants in Durban, South Africa. The perceptions of migration among South African medical graduates to more developed nations were assessed in terms of the push and pull factors, their perceptions about themselves as South Africans and the impact that decision to migrate will have for their respective households. Aspects that constitute the core of this research include a) perceptions about migration, b) who will migrate and c) how decision-making occurs. The study highlighted the manner in which potential transnational movement in the contemporary period is likely to impact on respective families and households. The study further investigated the role of violence and affirmative action policies in the decision to migrate and its likely impact on households. It also explores the challenges and opportunities that potential migrants may encounter on making a decision to migrate. Central to this project was the notion of how medical graduates are influenced by a myriad of social and economic forces. The high rate of people leaving the country implied that South Africa is basically exporting human capital. Statistics in this study bear witness to the prevalence of the growing number of South African medical graduates abroad. Both Migration Theory and the Family Systems Theory were appropriate frameworks within which the study findings were contextualized. The former encapsulates why potential Indian and White medical graduate migrants desire to leave and how the decision to migrate is made, while the tenets of the latter is challenged to show that family structure need not be altered due to the age of globalisation which is associated with new forms of technology that permits for emotional bonds to be maintained despite geographical dispersion. The study is anthropological in nature and therefore aims to capture and highlight the complexities of the perceptions of migration through the use of in-depth interviews and focus group discussions which made it possible to acquire a wealth of data. The exploratory goal of the study aims to illustrate that South African Indian and White medical graduates are of the perception that leaving South Africa and going abroad will provide better opportunities for themselves and their careers. The findings of this study reveal that their reasons for wanting to migrate among the Indian and white participants include the following push factors which are poor working conditions, job dissatisfaction, low remuneration, long working hours, lack of resources, crime and challenges facing the South African economy. Most of the participants are keeping their options about seeking employment outside South Africa and will consider the common wealth countries and developed nations as the host country. Participants of the Indian descent are of the opinion that migration will impact on families and households and that the family plays a crucial role in the decision-making process. Participants of the White descent believe that migration will not affect the family structure and migration for them is mostly influenced by friends and families who have already migrated. Due to the nuclear family system and high levels of individualism amongst the white participants the decision-making process does not include their families.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.